Great expectations for Jutanugarn

By Randall MellJanuary 25, 2017, 7:53 pm

Ariya Jutanugarn’s strength isn’t measured in the mammoth distances she can pound a golf ball.

It’s measured in how far she has come since falling flat on her face.

It’s in the might it took overcoming the kind of failure that made insiders doubt she was ever going to realize the promise she showed as a teen wunderkind.

You only have to turn the clock back a year to see the majestic arc of her climb.

Jutanugarn missed the cut at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic in last year’s LPGA’s season opener. She left Paradise Island with her head swimming in uncertainty because she was coming to know the sting of missed cuts too well. She missed 10 in a row the season before.

Jutanugarn left the Bahamas last year No. 63 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

But she wouldn’t miss another cut the rest of the year.

She would rebound to win five times, including her first major championship.

She would win the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year Award and climb all the way to No. 2 in the world rankings.

Jutanugarn takes a deep breath and sighs when asked to compare how she feels going to the Bahamas for this week’s season opener compared to last year’s.

“I feel a lot more confident,” Jutanugarn told “I’m not thinking about negative things, like last year. I was uncomfortable at this time last year, but I’m more relaxed now.”

Jutanugarn’s comeback stands as inspiration to every struggling player going through hard times.

“Ariya shows us all you can go through tough times in life, but you can come back,” said Gary Gilchrist, her swing coach. “She bounced back with her determination, with her self-belief.”

Jutanugarn credits the new team she put together early last year for helping her come back. She is relying on its members again to help her with a new set of challenges. She brought on Vision 54’s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott as her mental coaches a few weeks after leaving the Bahamas last year and hired Gilchrist as her swing coach about the same time.

That team helped Jutanugarn rebuild her game after a shoulder injury and surgery in 2013 led to a massive slump and loss of confidence.

Nilsson and Marriott gave Jutanugarn a game-changing pre-shot routine to quiet her nerves, steady her rhythm and keep her from rushing under pressure. A practiced pre-shot smile worked wonders as a “trigger” reminding Jutanugarn how to focus.

As the highest ranked player in the field at the Bahamas this week, Jutanugarn is the favorite to win. And therein lies the new challenge this year.

Jutanugarn will tee it up Thursday with giant expectations in tow.

“I know what I have to do now, even when I’m not playing well,” Jutanugarn said of the tools her team has given her. “I’m learning from rounds even when I’m playing bad.”

There are Vision 54 tools in that answer.

“It’s a totally new situation for her this year,” Nilsson said. “But she wants to keep learning and growing.”

The key words there in the Vision 54 toolbox are “learning” and “growing.” They’re concepts in a perspective they’re passing along to Jutanugarn, to help her temper expectations.

Nilsson and Marriott are helping Jutanugarn use a “growth mindset” philosophy to deal with expectations. It’s an approach popularized by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. It’s based on the idea that talent’s just the starting point to achievement, that love of learning leads to success.

While they aren’t specifically talking about Dweck and her concept, the ideas are in Vision 54’s approach.

“We don’t talk about the specific philosophy or the academic part of this to May,” Marriott said. “But we are trying to help her understand that [the challenges this year] are just about more learning and growing.”

There’s an attitude in the “growth mindset” philosophy that helps achievers play offense, instead of defense, which is a danger when players are trying to protect world-ranking turf or trying to duplicate success.

“When you’re trying to hold on to something, that makes you defensive,” Marriott said. “When you stay in a learning and `growth mindset,’ you’re on the offensive.”

Ariya and her sister, Moriya, spent almost a month in their native Thailand during the holidays. They vacationed on the beach at Krabi. They went boating, snorkeling and rock climbing.

“I only played golf three times in a month,” Ariya said.

Of course, there were a lot of media requests, and sponsor functions. Ariya’s success has led to more demands along with greater expectations.

After leaving Thailand, and before heading back to their new home in Lake Nona in Orlando, the sisters stopped to see Nilsson and Marriott in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a four-day camp to get ready for the new season.

Before heading to the Bahamas, the Jutanugarns met several times with Gilchrist at his base in Howey-In-The-Hills, just north of Orlando.

“We’re all working together, as a team,” said Moriya, the LPGA’s Rookie of the Year in 2013. “Pia, Lynn and Gary, they’re all talking and working together, and I think that’s really important. I think we all did pretty good together last year, and we’re trying to keep that up, and we’re trying to make things as simple as we can.”

Nilsson says Ariya has been open about the feelings she is having coming into the new year.

“Ariya says she’s feeling nervous about the expectations, but that’s the good thing,” Nilsson said. “She’s honest about it. That allows you to figure out what to do about it. She knows what she needs to focus on.”

Mostly, Ariya knows the strength she has to make the uphill climbs the game demands.

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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.